A Busy Year - Fall 2009


Again we've had a quiet but busy year. Nothing earth shattering happened. We just had lots of visitors.  Of course, most of our visitors stayed only a week or two but the visits were spaced out so we stayed busy straightening up after one group and immediately started getting ready for the next. It was fun but it meant that not many projects got worked on.

Winter was fairly mild. Summer was a bit of a bust for weather though. We had only about two or three weeks of hot summer weather. The rest was mild with frequent overcast and even drizzly days. For those not familiar with the Midwest, that is unusual. Of course, here even days with overcast and drizzle are shorts and tee shirt warm.

In previous updates, I've concentrated more on the Fall part of living in the Ozarks. For a change of pace, I thought I'd show some of the stuff that goes on in Spring and Summer this time.


A springtime view from across the pond.


As you can see in the springtime photo above, the grass and foliage around the house and pond continues to improve. The mild winter allowed the grass to come out of hibernation sooner so my lawn mowing started early this year.

That scum you see on the near side of the pond is simply tree pollen that is blown in on the breeze and collects on the water. It is not a problem except that it is a little sticky so gives you brown streaks if you swim around in it. It can make you look a bit dirty when you get out of the pond but it rinses off. The pollen scum disappears rapidly when it is windy or it rains.

Springtime - when its great to get out and enjoy the warm weather after a long winter.


Even after a mild winter, springtime is a wonderful change. As you can see in the picture above, it is not just Faith and I that enjoy the spring warm up. All of our pets (1 dog and 10 or so cats at last count) get a little extra frisky and playful. It must be a great relief to the wild critters in the woods around us to not have to put so much of their energy into just staying warm.  We see them out apparently just enjoying the sunshine and even being a little playful too.

Pollywog Bog coming back to life.


Faith's gardening spot for water margin plants always looks nice in the spring. It is a good spot to watch frogs and small fish. They like this small bog area as a refuge from the larger predatory fish out in the main part of the pond.

Boots and her kitten Sassy.


Boots is a feral cat that showed up at our back door already pregnant. We decided early that we would not interfere with her birthing and kitten raising. We already had enough pets. Of course, when she went into labor, all our will power faded away. We brought her into the house and provided her with a nice birthing box.  She gave birth to four kittens but only one survived. The vet said that she was probably too young and too malnourished during her pregnancy. The one that survived seems to be healthy. She is very active and playful.

Little Girl and her four kittens.


A short time later, another feral cat gave birth in one of the modified ice chest cat condos outside the basement door.  She had been showing up just about every evening for food. Since we had guessed she was pregnant, we made sure she had adequate food. She was too feral to allow us to approach her so we didn't know when she went into labor. One morning we noticed her in the ice chest with four newborn kittens. She took them out into the woods where she apparently lives. When they reached an age where they began to need solid food, she brought them back. We now have momma cat, who we named Little Girl, and her four kittens, Molly, Tiger Lilly, Darrel, and the other Darrel (Two identical black kittens) at our back door every evening.

Little Girl's kittens growing up.


Here are the four kittens as they are growing up.  That is Molly at the small food bowl.  The two Darrels are at the larger food bowl.  Tiger Lilly is at the far edge of the concrete with the dead Chipmunk.  Little Girl brought various dead or nearly dead small animals and lizards to her kittens to teach them what to hunt for.  Tiger Lilly played with the dead Chipmunk for a while and finished up by eating it.  Tiger Lilly, or Tigger as we call her some times, turned out to be the friendly one of the litter.  We kept her in the house over night after the vet fixed her.  She liked being in the house so much that she comes in and stay in every night.

Momma Opossum moving her babies to a new den - just stopping by for a drink of water.


Sometimes when you are living in the woods, you see some humorous stuff. The photo above is of a momma Opossum who stopped by for a drink from the cat's water dish while transporting her litter of babies to a new location. This is done every few days to avoid predators. The quiz question is: How many baby 'possums do you see? Our guess is eight. That is one tough momma!

Back yard celebration.


Of course, there is more going on here than just critters running around. Parties are a popular Ozark activity. You can see a typical back woods yard celebration in the above photos.

There's your problem! You installed your antenna too low!


I spend quite a bit of time working with and helping the local hams. I'm now the Secretary/Treasurer of the Lebanon Amateur Radio Club.

Gary hanging out with the radio guys.


Of course, amateur radio club activities require important technical discussion sessions (otherwise known as lie and joke swapping!).

The barbeque pit.


Ok, I've no excuse. I still haven't gotten around to building the permanent barbeque pit yet.  It is hard to be motivated when the concrete block temporary version still works so well.  I'll get to it next year for sure.... maybe.

Just sitting around the table after dinner with friends and family.


Naturally, with the barbeque available, we have barbeques. It is another good excuse to have friends and family over for dinner. In the above photo, dinner is over and we are starting to pick the dishes up. Notice how I look down there at the end of the table. This barbeque happened in the middle of those two weeks of hot weather we had this summer. I got very hot standing over the barbeque pit cooking dinner for this crowd.  As you can see my shirt is still a bit wet from sweat and my face looks like I haven't cooled off yet. I enjoyed it anyway.

A back yard 4th of July celebration.


Folks here in the Ozarks are a little more casual about fireworks rules than what city people are used to.  The first time some friends of ours here asked us to come over and watch the neighbors set off fireworks on the 4th of July, we pictured some kids waving some sparklers and watching a few colored safe-and-sane fireworks spray a few feet into the air.  We figured we would have some watermelon and tell a few jokes.  That sounded like an OK way to spend the evening.  When we got there, we discovered something rather larger was being set up.  It was the greatest fireworks show we had ever seen.  Their neighbors spend thousands of dollars on their fireworks.  These are big-boy fireworks they shoot off that explode hundreds of feet up in the sky.  Their show typically run for 30 to 40 minutes with no gaps and multiple mortars shooting stuff off the whole time.  You can see the fireworks crew in the photo above stopping by to dedicate the show before going back to their positions at the mortars.

Momma turtle looking for a place to lay her eggs.


Now, back to the critter theme. Late summer is when the turtles start laying eggs. This Snapping Turtle made a wrong turn and ended up outside our basement. I tossed her back into the pond so she could try again to find a good egg laying spot. Yep, Snapping Turtle. They are very common here. They can be dangerous out of the water. They tend to be very aggressive to protect themselves since they cannot pull their limbs all the way into the shell like other turtles. Fortunately, they are very docile in the water. You can bump them or step on them while they are submerged and they will swim away. By the behavior we have observed, we believe they are a little more intelligent that other kinds of turtles. About the only hazard they represent in the water is that their jaws are very strong so an accidental bite could be very painful. We've never met anyone who even knows of anyone actually bit by one. We just ignore them like all the other turtles.

This is our front yard - wow!


Though our pond is not what anyone would call huge, it is large enough that a few turtles more or less doesn't matter. They are just another interesting addition to our front yard.

I suppose we should not complain about the lack of hot weather this summer but it did reduce our play time in the pond. When the weather is hot, the surface water temperature in pond can get into the high 80's.  That is really great for splashing around in the evening.  Most years we have a month or two of that. This year there were only a few days like that.

I'm pretty sure we will survive without having a hot summer.  A mild summer after a mild winter is a bit of a surprise but, what the heck, that's life in the Ozarks.  We love it..

Faith's quilting area


With winter coming on, our thoughts do tend to be more for indoor activities. We have upgraded Faith's quilting area a bit. She seems to always have multiple quilting projects in progress. There is always something to keep us busy. Retirement is great.